The Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) has announced a raft of inclusivity initiatives, including the launch of 10 new bursaries aimed at supporting a more diverse range of romantic fiction writing.
As part of a wider drive to ensure the RNA is inclusive of members, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, social background, nationality, income level and disability, seven new "writer diversity and inclusion" bursaries will fund one-year places on the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (NWS). Of these seven new bursaries, five will be available to any writer from a background currently underrepresented in publishing, and two bursaries will focus specifically on authors from a lower income or working class background.
Fullerton, one of the sponsors of the bursaries, commented: "There are thousands of diverse writers and love stories out and this is my small contribution towards discovering them." The other sponsors comprise the MBA Literary Agency, the Kate Nash Literary Agency, and RNA member authors Rachel Dove, Milly Johnson, and one anonymous donor.
New Writers’ Scheme co-ordinator Imogen Howson said: "The NWS is invaluable to aspiring authors. Every year we’re able to celebrate when members achieve their first publishing contract—or when they receive advice or encouragement at just the right point in their writing journey. I’m excited that, due to these new bursaries, we can now extend the opportunity to join even more widely."
There are three futher bursaries. Two, funded by Carol Townend and Sue Moorcroft, will fund attendance at the RNA’s annual conference, giving the recipients an opportunity for networking, professional development and meeting with potential agents or editors. And the final bursary, sponsored by Rowan Coleman, is for an author of romantic fiction experiencing difficulties in the middle of their career. "This bursary recognises that authors face challenges at all stages of their careers, and that building a career as an author can be as difficult as achieving initial publication," the RNA said. The bursary will fund one year’s membership of the RNA and a place at its annual conference.
Details on all 10 bursaries, which are now open for applications, can be found on the RNA website.
A new Industry Award for a publishing or bookselling professional or business who has "actively championed and promoted increased diversity and inclusivity in romantic fiction publishing" will also be presented from 2020.